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Our view: Today, celebrate freedom

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

– The Declaration of Independence

Today, Americans will mark 241 years since 56 men from Great Britain’s 13 colonies signed the Declaration of Independence at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.

The declaration, which made its way around the western world, laid out the aspirational goals of what the new country should be: A place where all are equal, where individual rights and freedoms granted by God cannot be revoked by man, and where all government power derives only from the consent of the governed.

Today, we should celebrate the bold step of our Founding Fathers, who laid the foundation for the country that has become the leader of the free world.

Our relatively young country might not be all we wish it to be. Our politics have long been contentious.

For much of our country’s history, “all men are created equal” was more slogan than reality. Many say our country still has much work to do to achieve social justice for all.

But the values upon which our country was founded were a revelation; they remain a model for a free society. So long as we strive to meet them, America will continue to grow and flourish.

Today is a day to celebrate our freedom.

It is freedom that has been defended by generations who have taken up arms, and of activists and leaders who dared to march, demonstrate and fight for causes such as an end to slavery, women’s suffrage, and an end to discrimination in housing, in hiring, and to state-sanctioned segregation through “Jim Crow” laws.

The promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have drawn immigrants to the U.S. through the decades, each new wave coming in search of a better life of freedom and opportunity. Although many started from humble beginnings, they and their descendants have helped to drive American achievement and ingenuity ever forward.

Our immigration-driven, free society has given the world cultural marvels such as Hollywood, Broadway, jazz, blues and The Motown Sound. America’s athletes have brought forth baseball, basketball and the “Miracle on Ice.” Its scientists have pioneered communications, flight and space exploration.

Today, let’s celebrate our free and beautiful country. If you have a flag, fly it proudly.

Behind those Stars and Stripes is the cornerstone ideal that the freedoms we enjoy as Americans are not privileges, but rights granted us by God, which no government can take away.

Let it forever be so. Happy Fourth of July!

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